Get the Scoop on the CBT!

Updated: Dec 2, 2021

I would like to say a big hello to our readers! My name is Taylor and I write the blogs for Ride Motorcycle Training. Recently, myself and our E-commerce Executive, Emily decided that it was time to take our CBT. For anyone not aware, CBT stands for compulsory basic training and is the first step in learning to ride a motorcycle. Seeing as we work for a motorcycle training company, Emily and I thought it was high time we went through the experience - because how can you give an opinion on something you've never done? In this blog we'll take you through the highs and lows of our 8 hour training and maybe inspire you to take your CBT too!

So Emily, how did you feel leading up to the CBT?

I was very nervous because I’ve never done anything like it before, never even driven a car, but I was very excited as well.

So was riding a motorcycle something you had even considered before?

Well I wasn’t interested in riding a motorcycle before I started working at Ride. Now that I've been here a while and have been setting up the shop, I was looking at all these jackets that were really cool and I thought 'I want a reason to buy that' so I asked Gordon (our boss) and he said that I could take my CBT with them .

Wow, yeah it was almost the same for me. When I was younger I thought people with motorcycles were really cool and I wanted to be like them but that was when I was about 12 or 13 and as I got older I just lost sight of that whole ideal but coming to work for Ride Motorcycle Training reignited that desire. So when Gordon offered to let me take the CBT I was like 'why not?'

Yeah, why not! Nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Exactly, and I just thought it would be a cool new skill to have and an exciting one at that. But in the build up I was a little bit nervous because like you said it's not something I'd done before, I hadn't really had any actual experience with motorcycles so it was quite daunting in the days leading up.

The day of the CBT, I think I was mostly worried Roy (our instructor) wouldn't have enough patience for me. I know that when I get a little worried about things I don't always take instructions and facts in the first time but from the first moment I met Roy I just knew that day was going to be really great because he was so nice and laid-back right from the beginning. Did you find that as well? Did you think Roy put you at ease?

Absolutely! I mean he has unending patience for us, he is so lovely and patient and understanding. He's the sort of person that you just know you can get along with and I think that pretty much makes him the perfect instructor.

Definitely, and he took us through a bunch of safety before we even went near the bike so I felt a lot calmer after that. We spent a long time talking about the different motorcycle gear you can have and why it was so important. I think that's a really good part of the CBT because the only legal requirement is the helmet which I didn't know, I thought at least I have a jacket be legal requirement but no just the helmet, so it was nice for him to put an emphasis on how the clothing could keep you safe and obviously we sell a lot of the clothing through Ride and through Lancaster motorcycles so I was learning a lot about our own stock.

Yeah, I already had some ideas about that because I've been dealing with our stock a lot as part of my job but it's definitely good to get that sort of deep dive into it. All the features and safety standards were really interesting, there’s way more regulations then you might expect that you have to be on the look out for when you find gear.

Yes those are so important. And after we had talked about that, it was time to actually pick out our gear for the day. I think it's great that our company provides everything for us to do our CBT in and I know for me, getting kitted out just made it seem real and that's when I started getting really excited, what about you?

Absolutely, it was that moment of 'we’re actually going to ride motorbikes'! So, it's very, very exciting. I think it's great that Ride provides the gear too, and we do it because most people taking their CBT aren’t necessarily going to have any gear already. Not having to worry too much about that made it much less stressful and all we had to bring with us was denim jeans and boots that went over the ankles. Everything else, like the helmet, jacket and gloves were provided for us.

I find it quite funny because we got a little too excited about getting the gear on and had our helmets on straight away, but then we had to go and read a number plate so Roy could check our eye-sight and we had to take them off again!

We did! We were just a little too enthusiastic at that point I think.

We absolutely were! After that, we spent quite a long time just going over the mechanisms on the bike. So, where the brakes were, where the clutch was and how everything worked which I didn't actually expect to do, though I should have because I've done driving lessons before and we've done something similar. It was actually really interesting to me because, again, I didn't know that much about bikes beforehand so getting to learn all of that was really helpful and I think knowing how things worked helped put me at ease.

Yeah it was definitely very interesting because all of my experience came from pedal bikes. That’s what I was bringing into this so even though logically I know they’re not the same at all my mind is saying 'right yeah the brakes should be in the same place'. But there’s more to it because you have to hit the accelerator and indicators and everything. It’s very different, very interesting stuff.

I think it’s great as well that they had the options of the automatic or the manual, because having to account for gear changes on a manual bike adds a little more pressure and if you don’t feel ready for it, it is good to have another option to start out on. I think it will put people at ease. I mean at first I remember being a little jealous that you were on the automatic, I was like 'I wanna be on the automatic'.

I'm definitely grateful that was a choice because I think trying to operate a clutch and the pedal brake and the lever brake and all that stuff was very overwhelming to me and I couldn’t see myself doing it on anything other than the automatic that day. But now I feel like I can use that as a stepping stone. I’ve gotten really comfortable riding the scooter and in the future I would like to maybe resit my test on a manual bike or take some extra training for that.

I think that is a really good idea and honestly, the manual bike isn’t as difficult as it seems. At the start it definitely felt a little overwhelming because it seems like too many things to think about but after a while I got used to the process and it becomes almost like second nature. So after we finished going over the mechanisms and talking about how we got the bike moving, we actually then did have to get the bike moving. I personally found that quite tricky at first but I felt extremely safe and reassured because Roy had us going at a walking pace so that he could be beside us the entire time. At one point I released my clutch just a little too quickly and the bike jerked forward. I almost sped off into the distance and I saw Roy step towards me to try make sure that didn't happen but I managed to put my foot down on the brake and let go of the throttle and moved back into the safety position Roy had taught us. Once I was ready, I tried again and it all went smoothly from there. Balancing was very hard though did you find that?

Yes! Going at a walking pace makes it hard to balance for sure. I was actually walking the bike along while I had the throttle going at one point and I think we both told Roy 'I don't know why I'm wobbling so much'. Obviously, he did explain that once we're going a little faster it's not going to be so hard to balance but right now we just need to work on getting the bikes going and stopping smoothly which was good to know. I'm glad it wasn't going to be that much work to stay balanced for the whole CBT and I did find going faster helped with the balance.

Me too. So once we got the hang of stopping, starting and travelling small distances, we got to move on to more exciting things like going a little faster and turning. Do you want to describe the drills we had to do for the turns?

Sure. So first of all we were just basically riding around in a circle in the training area, making left hand turns at both sides. They were a little difficult to begin with because your turning circle is actually a lot bigger than you think and it's quite difficult to balance while turning and thinking about your speed. There's so many factors that just make it a challenge when you're not used to it. But then Roy explained to us that by physically turning your body and your head to look at where you want to go and focusing on one point in that direction naturally makes you turn. It also helps with the balance. Once I got that down I was really surprised at how much easier it was.

Oh my gosh, yes. That piece of advice really confused me at the start because I was convinced it would make things harder. I was thinking 'no I need to look at my bike and what my hands are doing and where the handle-bars are going'. But once I gave Roy's advice a go my turns became so much smoother and easier to execute. It's almost like my instructor knew what he was talking about.

Yeah it's funny how that worked isn't it?

In all seriousness though, Roy was so great at talking us through everything and I love that we actually did so many drills. Once we got comfortable with the turning in circles, we got to turn in a figure of 8 between two cones and even learned to weave in between several cones. I think I did run over a cone or two though.

Yeah, there were definitely a few casualties from me too.

They bounced back, it was fine. The fact that Roy let us go at our own pace too was amazing. There wasn't any pressure to move onto the next drill, it was just a case of we'll move on when we were happy and when he was happy too.

He was really great for letting us run the drill until we were confident in it. I think there were a few times he was happy for me to move on but I asked to do it again and he let me do it.

And once we were confident with those drills we got to move onto some different ones, like practising for traffic lights. This one is obviously super important on the road, so practising them in the training area first was a great way to take the pressure off when it came to the real thing. It was really good for practising clutch control on the manual bike and I even started getting up to second gear which was fun, if a little challenging in the beginning. We also had to practise emergency stops. How did you find those?

I was a bit nervous at first because I knew the wheels could lock up and skid and an emergency stop can be quite a harsh movement. But Roy explained really well about exactly what to do. When to pull which brake, how much pressure to apply and what to do if your wheel did lock up. So it was actually quite easy to get the hang of and I was really happy with it.

He did explain it really well and I found he explained junctions really well too. That was one of the last drills we did and I thought I already knew how to handle junctions, because of my driving lessons but it turned out a little different. As Roy explained at the time, motorcyclists are a much more vulnerable road user than someone in a car, because we have less to protect us. So the way we prepare for a junction is a little different. Rather than using Mirrors, Signal, Manoeuvre (MSM) like a car driver would, motorcyclists use Mirror, Indicator, Life-saver (MIL) before we even get to the junction. This is because we need to move into the right road position depending on which way we are turning. A life-saver is a check over your left or right should depending on which way you are going (if you're moving the bike left look over your left shoulder etc). As Roy explained on the day, life-savers are extremely important.

They really are because as a motorcyclist you have a much bigger blind-spot than you think. Roy had us test our blind-spot by walking behind us and asking us to tell him when we could no longer see him in our mirrors. It really was quite a large area where we had zero visibility. So life-savers are going to help you make sure there are no cyclists, pedestrians or even a sneaky car in your way before you get into position for the junction.

Exactly, and once we became confident with the junction drill it was time to break for lunch. After we finished eating we started talking a lot more about road theory - the traffic light sequence, when we had to give way and when it was someone else's job to give way to us. And Roy drew us some lovely diagrams to help us understand how to take a roundabout once we got out on the road. I found this really helpful actually because I'm definitely more of a visual learner. I also loved the way Roy didn't just talk at us, he was really engaging with us, asking what we thought we should do in different situations and talking it through with us. And we were also talking about the process of actually being out on the road, with Roy riding behind both of us so that he could give us directions through our headsets and see what we were doing. I found it put me at ease to know how it was going to work even though I was still really nervous to be out on the road, especially when I found out I would be at the front to start with.

Yeah, I found it really great that Roy double-checked we were happy to go out on the road beforehand too. It was nice to know that if we had decided we weren't comfortable yet that he wouldn't pressure us to, even if he was happy with it. I was pretty nervous about getting out onto the road though.

I was mostly worried about the other vehicles if I'm honest, because I have to think about them as well rather than just focusing on what I'm doing. But we had a really nice road out into Morecambe which helped. It was just so open and there wasn't much traffic, so it just gave me time to settle into riding on an actual road. The views were great too.

It was such a good road to start off with! There were a few traffic lights and a mini-roundabout to deal with first but once we got past those it was so much more free. It was a great opportunity to get used to going at speed, even though I think we were quite timid at the start. It was a 40 MPH road and I think we might have been going 20 MPH at first but Roy was on the headset telling us that if we were happy to, we could build our speed up a little more. Once we did, it was amazing. You have the wind in your face and as you come into Morecambe you get to go along the road by the promenade and see the sea which was just beautiful.

It was. I will admit I got a little more wary again as we came into the more populated roads but Roy was really great at talking us through everything on the headset, so I just trusted him and concentrated on following his directions. We found ourselves in a housing estate area quite early on and we got the opportunity to practice our junctions and turns a lot there, which was going pretty well I think, right until I underestimated a right turn.

Obviously, you and Roy both saw it happen and I ended up having to pull up on the left. I thought for sure it would cost me my CBT but you and Roy pulled up too and Roy came over to see what had happened and he was quick to reassure me that one mistake was not going to be a problem. And that was it. We got back on the bikes, pulled away and kept practicing the turns until they were smooth. We even managed to drive past Tanya's house (Tanya is our boss too), where she snapped some photos. Then we moved on.

Yeah and that's exactly what a CBT is for. To give you an opportunity to make some mistakes in a safe environment and learn how to correct them before you get out riding by yourself. It's better to have it happen on a CBT, in a quiet road than by yourself on a busy one, where you might get hurt. And knowing Roy was with us was reassuring throughout it all.

Yes and even when we got separated a few times, Roy had already told us what to do so we could handle that. I remember we first got separated because I had the opportunity to go at a junction but then a car got in front of you so we were split. But I just listened to Roy, pulled up safely and waited until you were coming up behind me again.

It was a little scary getting separated sometimes, but yes, knowing what to do really helped. And being able to hear Roy was great, though there was one time when I was at the front that we got separated by quite a few cars and I almost lost connection on the headset. But right as I went to pull up on the left and wait, Roy's voice came back through saying 'no, it's okay, I can see you, just keep going'.

I remember that! I was a little worried when I lost sight of you for a second. Overall though it didn't turn out as scary as I first thought it would be and the other road users were actually really nice to us, so that was a big plus.

They were, even though they probably weren't particularly pleased about being behind two learner motorcyclists. Especially when we didn't quite make it up to the speed limit.

Though speaking of, when we were on the way back and riding along that lovely, open road I actually got the opportunity to get up to 40 MPH. We had been separated but suddenly there were no cars between us so I was playing catch up. It was such an amazing feeling. My visor was up so my eyes were streaming from the wind but it felt almost electric riding along that road. And then it was over, we were turning back into the industrial estate to do our final emergency stops and U turns, and then came the best bit.

When Roy gave us our certificates! We passed!

We did and it was the greatest feeling. I honestly think it was such a worthwhile experience.

It really was and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. It's an adventure and even if you don't go on to do your MOD 1 and MOD 2 then it's still something you can say you've done. It's a good skill and really helps to build your confidence, because I genuinely wouldn't have thought I could do it before and look at me now. I use the scooter here at Ride to travel between offices all the time and the freedom it gives me from having to rely on public transport is so helpful.

So there you have it, an honest account of the CBT course from me and Emily.

If taking a CBT course is something you're interested in doing, check out our website using the button below. We also offer course for more advanced riders so make sure to take a look. We hope to see you soon!

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